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Radiocarbon dating with temporal order constraints

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Bayesian methods are now widely used for analysing radiocarbon dates. We find that the non-informative priors in use in the literature generate a bias towards wider date ranges which does not in general reflect substantial prior knowledge. We recommend using a prior in which the distribution of the difference between the earliest and latest dates has a uniform distribution. We show how such priors are derived from a simple physical model of the deposition and observation process. We illustrate this in a case-study, examining the effect that various priors have on the reconstructed dates. Bayes factors are used to help to decide model choice problems.
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Keywords: Bayesian Inference; Radiocarbon dating; Stein effect; Stratigraphy

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Auckland University, New Zealand

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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